Select a page

Anita Todaro-Brancati

This month we honor a mother who is no longer with us, whose daughter asked us to help remember her mother on the second anniversary of her passing. Gail (the daughter) gather her mother’s recipes and wrote the story of her mother’s infamous sauce…

A tavola! A tavola! Sunday afternoon dinner was a tradition that started on Saturday with the smell of tomatoes simmering on the stovetop for hours. Anita (Gail’s mom) and her sisters would start this Sicilian ritual like clockwork every Saturday afternoon. First they would pick the fat, ripe tomatoes from the garden, then visit the butcher who meticulously chose the best ground beef, lamb shanks and Italian sausage to simmer in the sugu (sauce) all afternoon. Anita always said that these scared ingredients were her family’s secret—recipe passed down through the generations, never written down but stored with their minds and senses. Gail remembers how she would start to salivate and her stomach would grumble Saturday afternoon in anticipation of Sunday dinner.

Twenty aunts, uncles and cousins came to expect this ritual, as did their grandparents in Palermo, Sicily. The eating marathon began at two o’clock, right after Sunday mass. The children ate dutifully in the kitchen as they listens to the multitude of conversations from the dining room in broken English and Sicilian dialect. It ended with the feverish sounds of musical instruments, including Uncle John’s “thug,” “thug” on the empty Chianti jug. Anita our M.O.M., would play the piano while the whole family sang Santa Lucia. The dinner would continue for hours and hours.

These dinner were very important to Gail and are the roots of her heritage. While growing up she assumed that all of her friends and schoolmates shared these same rituals, especially the Sunday dinner. One Sunday, a friend invited Gail to get together, and when Gail asked “what time?” she was shocked when her friend said “two o’clock.” Gail was confused and thought to herself, “doesn’t everyone have pasta dinner at two o’clock on Sunday afternoon?” Thanks to Gail and her mother Anita’s recipes, you can have pasta dinner any night of the week! Buon Appetito!

Appetizer

Carciofi Imbottiti

a large stuffed artichoke, filled with bread crumbs, garlic, parmesan cheese, parsley & olive oil

Lunch

Stuffed Rolls

french roll filled with sautéed ground beef, onions, garlic, green pepper, tomatoes, black olives and cheddar cheese, served with pasta salad

Dinner

Chicken Pizzaiola

chicken on the bone (white & dark meat), slow-cooked with tomatoes, onions, garlic, mushrooms, fresh oregano & potatoes

Pasta con Sugu di Carne Siciliana

Anita’s “Sunday sauce” — simmered for hours with Italian sausage, ground beef & lamb shanks, served with pasta of the day

Dessert

Traditional Cannoli

a crispy rolled cookie filled with a ricotta & chocolate chip cream